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PRODUCT DETAILS
OTHER CHEMICALS > Seaweed Extract

Seaweed is a loose colloquial term encompassing macroscopic, multicellular, benthic marine algae. The term includes some members of the red, brown and green algae. Seaweeds can also be classified by use (as food, medicine, fertilizer, filtration, industrial, etc.). As with other algae, seaweed are not plants.

Uses
Seaweed has a variety of purposes, for which it is farmed or foraged from the wild.

At the beginning of 2011, Indonesia produced 3 million tonnes of seaweed and surpassed the Philippines as the world's largest seaweed producer. By 2012 the production will hit 10 million tonnes.

Food

Seaweeds are consumed by coastal people, particularly in East Asia, e.g., Brunei, Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, but also in South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, Belize, Peru, Chile, the Canadian Maritimes, Scandinavia, South West England, Ireland, Wales, California, Philippines, and Scotland.

In Asia, Nori (Japan), Zicai (China), and Gim (Korea) are sheets of dried Porphyra used in soups or to wrap sushi. Chondrus crispus (commonly known as Irish Moss or carrageenan moss) is another red alga used in producing various food additives, along with Kappaphycus and various gigartinoid seaweeds. Porphyra is a red alga used in Wales to make laver. Laverbread, made from oats and the laver, is a popular dish there. In northern Belize, edible seaweeds are mixed with milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla to make a common beverage affectionately called "Dulce" (or "sweet").

Seaweeds are also harvested or cultivated for the extraction of alginate, agar and carrageenan, gelatinous substances collectively known as hydrocolloids or phycocolloids. Hydrocolloids have attained commercial significance as food additives. The food industry exploits their gelling, water-retention, emulsifying and other physical properties. Agar is used in foods such as confectionery, meat and poultry products, desserts and beverages and moulded foods. Carrageenan is used in salad dressings and sauces, dietetic foods, and as a preservative in meat and fish products, dairy items and baked goods.

Herbalism

Alginates are commonly used in wound dressings, and production of dental moulds. In microbiology research, agar - a plant-based goo similar to gelatin and made from seaweed - is extensively used as culture medium. Carrageenans, alginates and agaroses (the latter are prepared from agar by purification), together with other lesser-known macroalgal polysaccharides, also have several important biological activities or applications in biomedicine.

Seaweed is a source of iodine, necessary for thyroid function and to prevent goitre. However, an excess of iodine is suspected in the heightened cancer risk in Japanese who consume a lot of the plant, and even bigger risks in post-menopausal women.

Seaweeds may have curative properties for tuberculosis, arthritis, colds and influenza, worm infestations and even tumors. [dubious – discuss] In Japan, seaweed eaten as nori is known as a remedy for radiation poisoning.

Seaweed extract is used in some diet pills. Other seaweed pills exploit the same effect as gastric banding, expanding in the stomach to make the body feel more full.

Filtration

The strong photosynthesis of algae creates a large affinity for nutrients; this allows the seaweed to be used purposely to remove undesired nutrients from water. Nutrients such as ammonia, ammonium, nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, iron, copper, as well as Modern floating algae scrubber/cultivator on a reef pond

CO2 are rapidly consumed by growing seaweed. Reefs and lakes are naturally filtered this way (the seaweed being consumed by fish and invertabrates), and this filtering process is duplicated in man-made seaweed filters such as algae scrubbers.

Seaweed (macroalgae), as opposed to microalgae (phytoplankton), is used almost universally for filtration purposes because of the need to be able to easily remove (harvest) the algae from the water, which then removes the nutrients. Microalgae require more processing to separate it from the water than macroalgae does; macroalgae is simply pulled out.

When used for filtration, saltwater algae commonly grows species of Cladophora, Ulva, and Chaetomorpha. Freshwater filtration applications are useful too, and will commonly grow species such as Spirogyra.

Other seaweeds may be used as fertilizer, compost for landscaping, or a means of combating Seaweed is lifted out of top of algae scrubber/cultivator, to be discarded or used as food, fertilizer, or skin care beach erosion through burial in beach dunes. Seaweed is currently under consideration as a potential source of bioethanol. Seaweed is an ingredient in toothpaste, cosmetics and paints. Alginates enjoy many of the same uses as carrageenan, and are used in industrial products such as paper coatings, adhesives, dyes, gels, explosives and in processes such as paper sizing, textile printing, hydro-mulching and drilling. Research suggests that the Australian seaweed Delisea pulchra may interfere with bacterial colonization.